How did you get in to graffiti?
I started painting when I was really young, it’s been over 21 years now. Growing up, I saw graffiti everywhere, and I always had a sense of adventure. I would always see graffiti in these hard to reach locations, and I wondered how people do it. I began sketching, and copying different styles. Overtime I developed my own style, and graffiti that was unique to me.
Is being a graffiti artist different now than it was when you started?
When I started, you couldn’t just go on the internet and find a location. You had to go out and find your own places. It was much more difficult, and there was more of a sense of accomplishment, because you would work to find a place, and it became your own. It was a real sense of your hard work paying off, with more than just your art.
What do you think about anti-graffiti ideals?
People like to over generalize. There’s so many different forms, there’s graffiti art, street art, vandalism, tags, and more. When people want to prove a point, they pick out a tag on the street – that’s not art. But it proves a point. I think a city without graffiti isn’t the type of city I would want to live in. I want a city with a voice.
What do you love most about being a graffiti artist?
I love that it’s an outlet. I put a lot of thought into my composition and colors, I push the envelope. I take pride in what I do, and I want to always exceed my previous art. I’m always trying new ideas, new techniques, new shapes and images.
Tell us about your recent work at Welling Court.
I was given the chance to paint at Welling Court, which is an amazing area covered in a lot of graffiti murals. The 14 by 10 foot grate I was given hadn’t been painted since last year, and I was given the space by Ad Hoc, who puts the event together. The idea I had was of hieroglyphs protecting what looks like a warrior princess. Everyone in the community was very positive, and it was a great experience to be part of.
What are your thoughts on 5 Pointz closing down?
I painted at 5 Pointz, and it was really great. It was an outlet for younger artists to paint and practice, and it gave them somewhere that wasn’t a dangerous location to try out their art. The fact that it’s gone makes the 7 train a little less colorful – but art always finds a way. When art is shut down, it’s not dead, it just moves somewhere else. New Yorkers are extremely resourceful, and I think it will hold back the people who wanted somewhere easy to paint, but those with real initiative and love for graffiti will find a way.
You can find more of Mast’s amazing art on Instagram.